On Friday evening, Aug. 19, Rockford Garden Club President Kathy Healy and members master gardener Nancy Hoovler, Dave Hoovler and Tom Healy assessed the progress of the Rockford Lions Club renovation of the old Pioneer Cemetery next to North Rockford Middle School on Division. To assure a proper landscaping of this historical site, the Garden Club graciously accepted the Lions’ request for their expertise in converting an eyesore into a treasure. Perfectly, the result would be the cemetery as it was originally. Unfortunately, there are missing records, pictures and memories. Comments of longtime Rockford residents Helen Hessler, Bob Gunnell and Lois Gunnell confirm that even in their childhood it was a neglected place with broken and scattered gravestones. Photos or illustrations of the cemetery in its original condition would be of great help in its restoration. Please dig out your old family albums, find great-grandpa’s gravesite and help us restore this treasure to its original beauty. The Rockford Lions have presently opened up a pleasant wooded hillside and valley. Taking this, the Garden Club is marking trees to keep or cut, identifying invasive species to remove, assuring the present carpet of myrtle is protected and developing a site plan that enhances the cemetery’s natural beauty. In the meantime, cutting continues, and free firewood is stacked in the west parking lot. Bring your own saw and join us between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Fish stories, by their very nature, get bigger and bigger and bigger every time they are retold. This one is no exception. When Rockford resident Tom Healy boated a monster world record brown trout while fishing in the Manistee River last September it set forth a series of events that continue to this day. Healy was fishing with long-time fishing partner, Bob Woodhouse, and professional guide par-excellence, Tim Roller. Although absent in the boat that day, there was another party that had a vested interest in the world record achievement. Healy was fishing using a Cabella’s rod and reel. Healy purchases his “fishing stuff” exclusively from Cabella’s Outfitters and the giant sporting goods retailer leaped at the opportunity to promote Healy’s once-in-a-lifetime triumph. In an exclusive arrangement Cabella’s offered to do a skin mount of the 41 lb. 7 oz. – 43¾ inch fish along with six exact life size replicas free of charge. Healy could hardly say no to that offer! Cabella’s used their preferred taxidermist, Artistic Anglers of Duluth, MN, to undertake the task. Artistic Anglers is a world-class professional taxidermy art studio, with 25 years of experience, which specializes in Masterpiece Fish Reproductions. First-rate taxidermy takes time and it wasn’t until early August, some eleven months later, for “the fish” and its six replicas to be completed and personally delivered to Healy’s door. Healy now has his beautiful (understatement) skin mount in a protective glass case on prominent display in an impressive trophy room in his Rockford home. An extremely generous person by nature, Healy has already or is about to gift the six replicas. The very first of which was presented to Manistee County and in particular to the peoples of the city of Manistee, MI. “This special first one is being presented to Manistee County because of the respect everyone paid to this fish on the day it was caught,” said Healy, adding, “They really know what fishing means. I was just a lucky guy. It’s all about the fish.” One will go to the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac as a gift to the State of Michigan. One will go to Healy’s guide and one to his “fishing buddy”. Another will […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Sixty-five years and counting, Michigan’s oldest sport show played out to record crowds this past weekend at the Showspan Inc.-produced Ultimate Sport Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. From new boats and accessories to fishing tackle and hunting gear, along with representatives from sporting goods suppliers, there was something of interest for every sportsman and woman. Also on hand were fishing and hunting resort operators from all over the United States and Canada, extolling the virtues of their ultimate year-round sporting packages. This being Michigan, fishing was the name of the game. Indeed, the show was “pure Michigan.” You could book a fine Michigan guide, make reservations for a great family fishing vacation, purchase the latest fishing tackle, and attend multiple demonstrations and seminars to hone your outdoor skills. From mushroom-hunting and fly-casting instructions, to canoe and kayaking demonstrations on the huge DeVos Place 110,000-gallon Lake Ultimate, there was something for everyone. Not left out were the kids. They could receive coaching in casting skills or try their hand at a fully stocked trout pond. Two prominent Rockford businesses played a big role in the show. One of Michigan’s most knowledgeable anglers, Glen Blackwood of Rockford’s Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company and host of TV’s “Fly Fishing with Glen Blackwood,” gave fly-fishing casting and presentation demonstrations on Lake Ultimate. Unbelievably, in the crystal clear waters of the lake, he was able to entice and hook ever-wary stocked trout. The experts at Rockford’s Powers Outdoors gave live in-water demonstrations of how to enter and exit a kayak, various paddling techniques, along with important kayak maneuvers. Best of all for us, Rockford’s world record angler Tom Healy was on hand to personally autograph commemorative t-shirts. A portion of the proceeds was being donated to the Manistee County Sportfishing Association. You may recall that Rockford resident Healy had hooked and landed a new world record brown trout on Michigan’s Manistee River on Sept. 9, of last year. Michigan sportsmen never miss the Ultimate Sport Show. We saw familiar faces from all over Rockford in attendance during our visit. If you weren’t there this year, plan on attending the March 2011 event.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Has there ever been a fisherman who has not harbored the thought of one day catching a world record fish? On September 9 of last year (09/09/09) that day arrived for 35-year Rockford resident and avid fisherman, Tom Healy. Fishing on the Manistee River with his long-time fishing buddy, Bob Woodhouse—good fishing buddies are a treasure indeed—and guided by Tim Roller of Ultimate Outfitters, Healy tied into what he knew instinctively was a “big one.” He had been working a No. 8 Rapala Shad Wrap lure when the fish struck, and it wasn’t until the fish was brought to boat that it was identified as a huge brown trout. “It was the largest brown trout I had ever seen,” said veteran fishing guide Roller. Thus began a fated chain of events that will forever change the life of the 66 year-old retired Owen-Ames-Kimball construction company president. Hoping the fish was indeed a record fish, the three called it a day and quickly returned to the Peer Pressure Charter Boat office in Manistee to weigh the fish on a certified scale. Unbelievably, the trout was measured at 43.75 inches long, with a girth of 27 inches, and weighed a whopping 41 pounds and 7 ounces. When certified by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the fish smashed the former state record by almost five pounds. These stats were then submitted to the International Game Fish Association for possible world record certification. In early December 2009, Healy was thrilled to receive notice that his catch, the largest ever hooked and landed, had established a new world record for the brown trout species. Healy’s fish had broken a previously held 17-year record by 1.2 pounds. Now, establishing a world record fish catch, especially in one of the trout species, brings with it many accolades and endorsements. Sport fishermen around the world read and heard of Healy’s magnificent grab in the press and on TV. Reading of the feat in Field & Stream magazine, Curt Redden, founder and principal artist of You Catch We Sketch (www.fishportraits.com) of Hattiesburg, Miss., contacted Healy. Redden paints high-quality original works of art of fishermen’s catches as an affordable alternative to high-priced taxidermy. Fishermen send photos and specifications […]
Fish featured on ESPN, Field and Stream It’s been said that Manistee is one of the best places to fish in the world. That may have been proven true on Wednesday, September 9. Tom Healy of Rockford reeled in a potential new world record brown trout with his 41.45-pound catch Wednesday morning on the Big Manistee River. Multiple online sources credit the current world record holder to Howard “Rip” Collins, for his 40.25-pound brown caught in 1992 in Arkansas. “It was fitting that Tom would catch this fish,” said Wednesday’s river guide Tim Roller of Cadillac, the host of the television show Tim Roller’s Wild Adventure, who was one of two others who witnessed the catch. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the cameras with us today.” The DNR’s Master Angler state records page lists the current state record brown trout as a 36.81-pound fish caught in Benzie County in 2007 by Casey Randall Richey. The three next-biggest browns are all listed as catches in Manistee County. Healy’s catch drew a crowd around the Pier Pressure charter boat office on River Street, where the three fishermen brought the fish to be weighed on certified scales. Bob Woodhouse, who is also from the Grand Rapids area and fished with Healy Wednesday, received credit for coming up with the idea to fish near Manistee. Woodhouse agreed with Roller that Healy “is an excellent angler.” Woodhouse said Wednesday’s trip wasn’t really a special occasion. “Tom and I fish together all the time,” he said, “probably for over 10 years now.” The group knew they had a lunker right off the bat. “At first we didn’t know what we had, but we knew it was a big fish,” Healy said. He added that, although under such circumstances it’s difficult to keep track of time, it probably took 15 minutes to land the fish. “It was a fun morning,” Healy said. “We caught some salmon, then we caught this and said, ‘It’s time to quit.’” However, the crew wasn’t about to get out the fillet knife. “I’ll get him up on the wall,” Healy said. “He’ll look good.” Admiring a mounted fish at Pier Pressure, Healy said, “Look at that sucker there, and he’s 10 pounds lighter.”